Trenton – The U.S. House of Representatives voted late this afternoon to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. With a final bipartisan vote of 310-107, the bill garnered considerable bipartisan support, including a unanimous support from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.
Alongside other environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, outdoor recreation businesses and more, Environment America has prioritized the LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program, for years. Utilizing billboards in several states, including in New Jersey in Parsippany; lawn signs and banners; a steady series of op-eds; and a continual presence on Capitol Hill and in congressional districts, we have urged lawmakers to invest in America’s great outdoors.
In response to the House’s vote, Environment New Jersey’s Director Doug O’Malley released the following statement:
“With today’s passage of this bill, we’re one step away from putting a lock and key on funding that has always been intended for conservation projects -- yet consistently diverted to other purposes. The Great American Outdoors Act embraces what we all know to be true: protecting and enhancing our public lands is an essential part of the American ethos. We applaud the House’s bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and the unanimous bipartisan support from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation.
By locking in $900 million a year for outdoor projects, plus providing a short-term infusion of money to address maintenance issues, the House is reaffirming that commitment to the natural world. Whether it’s local parks and hiking trails or national parks or forests, Americans love and utilize public lands. This bill is not only an investment in outdoor spaces but also in our health and psyche.
We are proud of the broad bipartisan support in the New Jersey delegation, and the sponsorships of this legislation by Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2), Rep. Andy Kim (R-3), Rep. Chris Smith (R-4), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6), Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7), Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), Bill Pascrell (D-9), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).
We are particularly thankful for the ongoing bipartisan leadership of Rep. Sherrill, who was a lead sponsor of the legislation. She and the rest of the delegation worked to bring together a bipartisan consensus to protect something that we all value as New Jerseyans and Americans– our great outdoors. We urge the President to sign this bill into law as soon as possible to make this initiative a reality.”